Using an Artificial Intelligent personal assistant: Do they really help?

By Dr Chris Campbell, Griffith University

In 2017, when making an appointment with another academic I was introduced to Amy Ingram who by email stated she was the Artificial Intelligence Personal Assistant (AI PA) to the academic. Then through emailing Amy, I made an appointment with the academic to meet. I was very intrigued by Amy and when I asked her more she told me she was only asked to schedule meetings and that she had forwarded my questions to the academic. A quick Google search and I was then signed up for Amy and was on the waitlist for a trial version through the website X.ai. Subsequently I had my own AI PA for a trial which lasted less than a week when I decided to upgrade and pay about US$18 a month which was about A$25. I then began to use Amy (or Andrew as my AI PA).

Using Amy’s brother Andrew Ingram (I generally call him Andy) met with very interested comments from colleagues when I used him to schedule meetings. After a few months he could also schedule them in Zoom so that was handy as well. Then last year the cost of Amy Ingram went down to just US$10 a month or about A$14 or so.

So what does Amy (or Andrew) do? They are a chatbot that schedule meetings for me. They will contact the person or people who I want to have a meeting with and they will schedule it with them. No Amy can’t see the other person’s calendar so they need to be active in replying and making the day/time to meet. If I’m not available then, Amy will let them know and go for another time or day. Simple really, but oh less so when you think that Amy isn’t real. Mistakes happen and sometimes Amy misunderstands either myself or the other person, but over time Amy is getting better at her job. I’m still using her almost daily and the meetings are generally put into my calendar in a seamless way.

Although quite a bit has been written about Amy and Andrew some articles are more detailed while initially focusing on the negative. Interestingly, I think that Amy has improved in her performance over the past 18 months and as the company is so responsive to feedback (they have a slack channel that users are invited to) that she will continue to improve. The company is also always improving Amy with new features which is great as well.

Although articles have been written on looking at AI and how they can assist people with their work, not everyone is positive and much has been said of the impact of AI on various types of jobs. Although the Forbes article states that jobs will disappear, I’ve decided that as I don’t have someone to schedule my meetings using AI for this task can only be a positive for me. In short Andy makes my life a little easier, and so when that happens I think it is about embracing AI.

So does using an AI PA on a regular basis improve my life? I think so. Mainly it means that I don’t have to go into my calendar to do fussy meeting invites as Andrew does this for me. Obviously it also frees up some time. He is definitely a positive for my life as I wouldn’t keep paying each month if there wasn’t some benefit.

How would your life change if you had an AI PA?